Council bosses are to launch a crackdown after an increase in discarded drug paraphernalia over the past two years.
Hartlepool Borough Council has run a ‘needle exchange’ for a number of years looking to help reduce the number of used needles and drug paraphernalia found in community spaces.
However a recent needs assessment found the programme should be broadened into a ‘harm minimisation service’ to meet the needs of people and offer more guidance and awareness.
The needle exchange service offers facilities where injecting drug users can obtain sterile injecting equipment and also dispose of used needles in a responsible, hygienic and safe manner.
A report from Peter Brambleby, Director of Public Health, said the needle exchange has benefits but has also faced problems in recent years.
He said: “There has been a noticeable increase in discarded drug paraphernalia over the last two years, especially in the grounds of certain pharmacies that are now at the point of conducting daily patrols to remove such litter from their premises.
“There is also a telephone number at Hartlepool Borough Council that people can call to have litter removed within 2 hours.
“We are sure that if their call outs were monitored it would reflect this increase.
“A full harm minimisation service would enhance the service we can offer to our clients, and encourage more people into treatment.
“This service would not only incorporate the needle exchange but would address many other issues.”
Currently the needle exchange is being delivered by the Headland Pharmacy, Seaton Pharmacy, the Lloyds Pharmacy in Park Road and the Boots Pharmacy at the Marina.
The extended harm minimisation service would offer guidance on other issues such as wound care, overdose awareness, safer injecting techniques and signposting into GPs.
The report also states it would offer more control over how needle exchange packs are distributed and monitored, and the potential of offering the facility out of hours for evenings and weekends.
It would aim to enable council officers to work with clients to explain the importance of exchanging needles in a safe environment and the consequences of not doing so.
A decision will be made on the proposals at the council audit and governance committee meeting at the Civic Centre on Thursday, November 22, from 10am.
Nic Marko , Local Democracy Reporting Service